It is just a few days after the 2023 Sri Chimoy 24 hour event at London Battersea.
For Camino it was extraordinary on many levels.
We have a history with the event. David came 3rd in 2018 and many Caminos have run it these past few years.
However this year we had a WhatsApp group with almost ten of the 53 competitors and seeing so many runners with the Camino Tee on the start line was something special.
So many runners start a 24 hour event with wildly different expectations.
For the Camino athletes most of them were being coached to 'prepare for spending the entirety of the 24 hours on the track'. We've been asked by many people what goes on in the minds of runners when faced with challenges to this 'full 24 hour mantra'. So we've asked the runners to pull out some of the run emotions, reflect on their whys and share some lessons which we hope will be useful for any of you thinking of doing one of these in the future.
What we will say is that your answer should be 'YES'.
24 Hour track events (especially this Mecca of the Sri Chimoy version hosted by the angels from Run and Become) are a unique opportunity to be 'close but distant' - to get wrapped up in the events that unfold in front of you or to literally 'run away from them'.
As this perspective is so unusual we start with the reflections of Coach Paula. As we crewed for the full 24 hours you know that 'at any moment' a runners mental state can unravel - if you decide to switch off then you are potentially giving your athlete permission to switch off.
For each runner the experience was different. Some ran beautifully but their why ended early. For others the fatigue and stresses of 24 hour running found ways of destabilising strong plans and for others their dreams became a reality.
Real winners put their foot on the start line.
Everything after that is a gift.
Camino are grateful to the friends who came down throughout the day and night to offer support, love (and where needed) counselling.
To the runners out on the track that experienced something powerful - we are grateful that you have shared your thoughts with us. You have inspired many of us to seek refuge in future 24 hour arenas.
Recover well you Legends x Over to you x
"I had spent the night trackside in 20,21 when I was one of Sinead Kane guide runners for the event. I was really excited this year as we were coaching athletes who were doing the race and also as many of our friends were also going to be there. So it was a wonderful opportunity to crew as well as being part of the cheer squad!
This time I was there for the full 24 hours. We arrived in the van just after 11 and were directed to the last spot at the end of the straight..there was a big turnout for this race !! it’s pretty impressive seeing all of the crews set up trackside. some are more modest feed stations out of the backs of boots with a camping chair, others with gazebos, tents and tables but the one thing in common between all of them was that the runners had entrusted their most reliable loved ones and friends who would help them see through the 24 hours, if stars aligned!
I’ll leave the race review to the courageous athletes who took to the track, but from a crew and spectator perspective it is really quite a beautiful thing watching those 24 hours unfold.
There were 53 athletes that started the race and over the course of that time we must’ve seen some of them lap the track 500 times !
The race ebbs and flows, everyone fresh at the start and running at pace we can only marvel at how they might keep going with that for 24 hours. Some People start off conservatively taking walking breaks early on, others are flying by and the hours pass …. after four hours everyone changes directions. It causes quite a stir with cheering and clapping . It’s an exciting moment in the race! Slowly you begin to see people tiring, you can see in the way they move and on their faces , others continue to move well. The runners weave out of the inside lane to the outside to get support from their crews. Bottles and flasks are thrown into the hands of eagerly awaiting crew to be refilled, requests for food and gels shouted out ready to be received on the next Lap. Sunset comes and the darkness falls, but there is a big full moon shining on the track as well as the very bright floodlights! There is definitely a change in the air as we head towards midnight. The athletes are now taking advantage of the comfy chairs laid out by their crew, a quick rest for weary legs , blisters, being treated , socks being changed, legs, being massaged, and all sorts of other care being delivered so that the athletes can keep on moving. Luckily for me I didn’t have to stay awake The whole 24 hours!! I managed to get two good of block of sleep and each time I woke more people had left the track and you could see the gaps in the gazebos where people had packed up and gone home.
It’s very hypnotic and somewhat meditative sitting by a track in the early hours of the morning, watching people go round and round. it’s hard, not to imagine the challenges that all the athletes are facing and the resilience and strength that they showing in order to keep on putting one foot in front of the other. This creates quite a special energy around the track. Everyone following the same path , with a hope that their bodies and minds and will will allow them the full 24 hours. Sun rises again and somehow before we know it, the last hour of the event is upon us. It’s been clear for some time that the runners that are still out on the track Are definitely going to finish. some mostly walking now, but others are running again, fast … they’ve found That extra bit of magic again! People who looked like they might stop now have a newfound energy and are flying round the track. It really is quite amazing to see that. Each of the athletes is given a little bag of sand and when the whistle goes to mark the end of the 24 hour event, the athletes stop and place the bag of sand on the track so that their exact finishing distance can be measured by the officials. And then just like that the 24 hours is over. I’m sure at points in the race for the runners it seemed like it had been going on forever and there was still a mountain to climb , but then just like that, in a flash the whistle blows and a it’s over.."
CAMINO: Everyone has quite a powerful narrative inside a 24 hour event.
Many of you already know our friend Anson - an incredible human and real source of inspiration for us. Observing his grit and warmth throughout his entire 24 hours on the track was a thing of total beauty to us. Here are his wise words x
ANSON: "The 24h track race is probably one of the few ultra-marathon distances where you can control much of the external environment, and plan accordingly. However, having said that, it is still an incredibly tough race, with 30% of runners retiring early (I think all but one or two with a DNF).
What surprised me:
Contrary to what you may think, running around a 400m track for 24h was never boring. This is I think is the transcendental part of the race - you really will forget much of what happened, because of the repetition of the route, but this can then lead you into a meditative frame of mind. At least it did for me!
Although a timer chip is attached to one of your race numbers, there are also people at a desk by the side of the track who count every lap that you do. At first I thought this was a bit weird, especially when every time you passed, they would say your name. But honestly, I loved that they were there - it made me feel like there was always someone watching out for me, willing me on. And as you crossed various milestones (e.g., 50km, 100km 150km, 100 miles) they seemed genuinely as delighted to witness your accomplishments as you are yourself! Ditto for the volunteers serving food and drinks - my only regret is I didn’t get my picture taken with them.
Play the long game
Like all races, fight the urge to go faster at the beginning. My plan was to run between 7min - 8 min /km for much of the race. But like many others, I got caught up in the enthusiasm of racing, and ran the first 10-15km faster than I had planned. But even at a speed of c. 6 mins /km, I was still bumping along the bottom of the leader board. The board is updated manually every hour, and I quicky became despondent with my own performance; early in the race the doubts set in that I wasn’t good enough to be doing this race. I started to talk myself into having my first ever DNF; my experience of watching other races was that if you are one of the slowest, then in point-to-point race you would miss the cut-offs. Here I was expecting just to crash and burn, therefore. But my partner David gave me a bit of a pep-talk before he went home, reminding me that I would find my rhythm, especially at night-time. Which I did, and he was right.
Find your rhythm; running the 24h track race will be a better experience if you have discipline and routine. I knew my strength from other 24h+ races was pattern, repetition and consistency. And I found this on the track; I walked for about 25m at each end of the curvy bits of the track and ran the other 350m. I did this for pretty much 20 hours!!
Course distance and actual distance ran are different
It took me a while to get my head round this, but the 24h track race measures distance run by assuming that you run only in the inside lane, which is exactly 400m. If you spent time, like me, often at the margins of the 2nd lane to make way for the faster runners, then each lap is almost 408m, and over 400+ laps that distance mounts up. If you run in lanes even further out, that distance builds up even more, but is not counted as part of your official total. For example, my Coros distance was 181.1km (112.6), but my official Sri Chimnoy distance was 171.8km (106.8 miles), about 5% difference. Either way, still my longest race to date!!
If you think you need a crew - take one (+ foldable table and chairs)!
I’m still pretty much of a newbie to these long-distance races and have only ever had a crew once before. I was honestly surprised that when I arrived at Battersea track there were already loads of camper vans and cars drawing up, with tables, chairs, tents and even cooking facilities - most of the runners were being crewed by family, friends and / or coaches. In contrast, myself and my friend Oscar inside took over a park bench at the track alongside a few other people. This was absolutely fine, and we were able to watch out for each other, but more is merrier. I can’t help but wonder if my eating plan would have persisted beyond the 3 hours after it broke down, if I had someone there to insist I eat more."
CAMINO: Over the past few months we've seen Stephen train as well as he has ever trained - real purpose and with total quality. Being our Mental Resilience Coach we also knew his Why was strong and he was looking forward to be out there for the full 24 hours. What unfolded is a classic example of Koops ADAPT still not working. There is no total formula to ultramarathons - when it's not your day...
So again we are deeply grateful to Stephen for going deep with his reflections on his 12 out of 24 hours xx
"A part of me feels a little fraudulent contributing the blog of others who made it to the full 24 hours, especially those contending with so much more, but I do have something to share so here goes!
Self transcendence was my A goal. It got me up early everyday with purpose for 6 months. I did the nutrition, the strength work, the recovery, the miles. All banked with the support and space offered from home. And as I reflect on that time I notice the many layers and ripple effects of just being on the path to the start line. A wise man captured it well when he said the race may have just been the foot note. It was the icing on the cake. But so sweet in fact, it may have made me sick :-)
But what a race it was!. So beautifully intimate and serene. So much positive energy radiating around the track for hours and hours and hours. All of the participants observable as they explored the very depths of themselves. Magical and unique as the full moon shone down. And the crews. So much gratitude to the crews…
For me it was a bit of bad luck with the stomach which seems to continue to hold me back. There were incredible highs and lows and despite giving what I had, 12 hours saw me pretty broken, unable to get calories or hydration in.
But if I’m honest, I needed a humbling and I got exactly that. You don’t always get what you want, but you get what you need ;-)
And with that, perhaps not today or tomorrow but soon, I’ll join up the dots and unpack fully what the universe offered me to fail at this one, as that discovery will be the real gift that helps me transcend. "
CAMINO: ANNA BROWN
You can be trained and you can be as trained as well as you can be - Anna is an extraordinary athlete that has overcome some of life's toughest set backs. If ever there is a case for just being grateful for 'being part' then Anna sets that bar as someone who constantly inspires us for being at each start line. However 'Anna is Anna' and there is always more desire than just 'showing up'. So we set some clear goals with Anna.
1) Finish the full 24 hours and set a new 24 hour PB
2) if possible push for a new 100 mile PB
Having witnessed Anna out there for the full 24 hours it was clear that a phenomenal amount of resilience would be required to hit either of these goals.
As we said 'Anna is Anna' x So over to Anna to let you know how it went x
ANNA: "This was my second attempt at a track 24 and I had several aims at this one to both correct past errors and also beat previous PBs. My first attempt was 3 years ago with full on Covid restrictions (so only my poor flatmate to pick up all crewing and support duties!) That saw me set a 24 hour total of 186km despite walking for 7 hours after I pulled a quad muscle when I got too cold. I’d also had a major kit error (belt) which made me feel sick for the first 6 hours - so there was a lot to be improved on! On the whole, this second attempt was a successful mission, yet I still made errors. For me, it was a race of three parts:
1 - ‘The early, uncomfortably warm bit’ where my pace and nutrition were decent as I was fresh, but I really started to struggle physically and mentally mid-afternoon feeling quite queasy and very negative about my prospect of completing. I started on my first doom-spiral and I desperately wanted it to be cooler..
2 - The second section ‘the night bit’ started as the temperature dropped and although I started to feel quite shivery and ill, once I put an extra top on I gradually started to feel better. I tried to break the distance down into 5k and 10k blocks giving myself relatively short and manageable targets and a bit of a rest/reset once I hit them. I was even counting in 2k blocks for some of it as the 5 laps were short enough to keep me motivated. I think this section was my strongest as I started to climb the ranks as other runners started to flag or drop out. My main aim was to try and break my 100 mile PB so that kept me going during the night and even though until the last few miles I still doubted I would do it, I found something inside to pick up the pace and started storming round the track (as much as is possible after over 18 hours of running!) - I was on a mission and was half-wheezing, half-crying as I got closer to the mark. I finally whooped my way through the 100 miles in 18:28 with an ‘official’ PB of 42 minutes (unofficial only 7!) I then gave myself ‘a few’ laps walking to recover from the effort. My main error during the night was that I couldn’t find any nutrition that worked - Richard kept trying to cajole me into taking on fluids/calories but I really didn’t do very well with it at all. Must-do-better!
3 - I still haven’t cracked this stage -The ’post -100 miles til the end’ bit. I tried to start jogging again after my walk break but I found the impact reverberated through my legs to my hips and it was incredibly painful. Very different to last time which was one specific pain/injury - this was my whole lower body. I had no confidence I could keep up the pace to reach my 200k target but I tried a few times to jog just in case… Unfortunately I couldn’t make myself deal with the pain so did the maths, accepted the new 24 PB would happen with a decent hike (but wouldn’t be 200k) and just ground out what I could. The time went incredibly slowly for the last 4 hours and I wanted to stop on so many occasions but the positivity of all the supporters, who all felt like old friends by now, kept me going. I had some good chats with other runners during this time too which helped. As the final 10 or so minutes arrived I finally listened to David who had been telling me to run every now and then for the last 5 hours! I managed to get a shuffle-jog on and kept going until the horn sounded and I was allowed to collapse in a heap!
Overall I think I’m happy with how it went on the day, despite regretting my life choices for a large part of the 24 hours! I was so sure during the day that I never wanted to do it again, but I still have that desire to crack 200… maybe one day. Massive thanks to Richard McDowell for crewing me and David and Paula for also looking out for me throughout and all the Camino family and my sisters and friends that came along to support and witness the craziness!!
What can we say about Maximillian Dew x
Well the running gods weren't ever going to make it easy for Max to stay out there for 24 hours. There were many obvious moments when it didn't look like Max was going to withstand the chimps onslaught. Max had chosen his crew wisely - Richard wasn't taking any prisoners - soft love + tough love both served up with plenty of calorie choice. The Max that finished his third Sri Chimoy 24 hour was the best version. Very proud of you buddy.
"I went into this one knowing it was going to be a tough one as training had been less than optimal.
But Iwas still positive as I had Richard crewing me and so many friends off and on the track. As we stepped up to the line the excitement got the better of my and where Idid want to go out a bit fast, it was only ment to be a 10km.....not 30kmt, in fact Strava said Idone my second fastest 50km which looking about on now was probably not the smart thing to have done. Furthermore I was so excited and moving so fast Ididn't notice, feel or just ignored my right shine hurting.
After a while it became unbearable and I started walking. Went to sit down to "take on some fuel" (and excuse to sit down) where Richard and Inotice the elastic band on my sock was so tight it's had aggravated my tenants and was a big problem now. So Richard pulled out some scissor and cut off the elastic from both of my socks, but alas it was too late and the damage had been done.
After Richard kicked me out and told me to move it, in the nicest way possible Iwas move around with Anna Brown where she told me to go and see the physio and she was spot on as the physio may not have been able to fix my shine but she did fix everything else, which made me feel like new(ish). I was running again, and for about an hours and a half I felt pretty good. But them my shine pain took over and left me walking.
However after my first 24h I learned a valuable lesson from Roz which is, walk
like you mean it. Don't stop, dawdle or drag you feet. Move it, move it (like Reel 2 Reel said,
So where it was hard Iwasn't going to give up or throw in the towel.
So I kept moving but that was good because Igot to spend more time with some incredible people.
People like Patricia Seabrook (83), John Turner (73), Roz Glover, J a m e s Elson. These people have inspired me from the beginning (My first 24 hour 3 years ago)
But also got to meet so many more new friends.
James was having a tough race too so we spoke about how hard it was but also that we should still try to enjoy/endure it too the end. 1because so many had dropped
out at that point, (it wasn't just hard for us as the heat had taken a toll on a lot of
people) but too be because not every race is going to be a "your race" (some times it's good and sometimes it's shit) and if it was always good I think we would probably find
something harder to try and kill ourselves at haha.
Anyway after a long night filled with good conversations and a tough morning Icould see 100 miles creeping closer and closer and my heart getting ready to give up straight after. The adrenaline kicked in and I had a bit of speed again.
Every lap I done I could feel the exhaustion weighing heavier on me and as I passed Roz and John Isaid to them next lap!!!
Roz shouted don't stop or rest again as so many people hit the 100 mile milestone and stop and Icould climb some sneaky positions if Ijust kept moving (super valuable advice I won't forget)
So I hit 100 just after Anson and I shouted to him as he was being embraced by his
loved ones, don't stop!! Just as Roz told me iwanted to see him get the best he could and not relax. He placed two places ahead of me, kinda shot myself in the foot there haha but also Ifelt like we as Caminos were had each others back the whole time and only wanted the best out of us all so I'm super proud of him.
After I hit 100
stop but I did
lose all my energy and was reduced to shuffling lucky with an 30 minutes to an hour Zoe Salt (second lady) became my shuffling partner too the end and grinded out the
last bit of time we had left. Also they turned off the count down clock and Zoe
had taken off here watch as it was playing up so Ikept her updated with what felt like
the longest 30 minutes ever.
What a race. Definitely the hardest one yet but boy did I have a good time. Even when Iwas holding back the tears Iwas still full
of love and happiness.
The Sri Chinmoy Self-Transcendence 24- Hour really does hold a special place I'm
my heart and Ihope to return every year till I can't d o it anymore.
Ineed to say a special thank you to Richard, Paula, David, Kelsey, Annie Bee, Caroline, Felix, Chiara, Denise and Michael Wiggins and all the Pioneers who camedown with so much energy, you are all the best.
But also to my amazing girlfriend Julia who has to put up with me and all this mad
And not forgetting my number fun, my boy Dylan who shouting at me made everyone laugh.
Thank you Sri Chinmoy and I'll see you again next year."
There is running and then there is running.
There is grit - determination - resilience but every now and again there is just something so effortless that you can be forgiven for believing that this is a trick on your senses.
Behold Miki - Truly Magical Miki.
Someone who glides. Runs the way - the way that textbooks tell us to run.
Now even for runners who glide the idea of maintaining that for 24 hours is almost unthinkable. Over the years of coaching we have seen great 50 mile runners fail at every 100. We've seen many centurions fail in the face of 24 hours and beyond. You are almost taught to expect such a degradation in form that you will finish hunched in a ball.
Just a wonder in flight. From the start to the ultimate finish.
Congratulations Miki on joining an illustrious list of the best Ultramarathon runners and your epic PB puts you up there x
"When your life journey demands your deepest vital force, calling your intuition, your intuition is clear and sharp.
Looking back this joyous 24 hours now, with my matured near death body, savouring my Earl Grey.
Oh I had to nourish with ten thousands calories before to sit straight on my bed.
Contemplatively breathing in this precious moment today, closing eyes, the bright immersion of gratefulness towards all the people, the big team we were, adventuring towards the one same direction.
We stand there side by side, we were like kids all excited to unknown brilliant journey ahead.
We start now, perhaps get hurt.
Then it gets as sweet as the cotton candy too.
I’ve got the best Kelly Willis by my side.
She volunteered to aide for 24H before running Chicago marathon next Sunday.
This girl is a killer bunny, a doable superwoman.
You can easily abandon your decision to her.
So I am telling Kelly to give me orders firmly.
Direct me, please.
Saying that to her, did I just arrange facilitating to reach 200km, my goal today?
Is it my laziness to fall on the side where fancy corridors and tapis rouge welcome?
It is so fluid, irresponsible, not to have to make your own decisions.
It is easy and fun just being impressed outside of your true will.
Yes I felt somehow guilty and cheating telling her to be directive to me.
In Ayurveda, the good doctors are the ones who can make realize that the person is capable to heal himself, and the the power is within him.
I know that I have to make that happen.
Whose race is it then?
I make effort or I can just dream about it tonight.
Anyways, just run now, I will debate those during my run later.
There was no plan.
I got my Yoga mat, roller and pink blanket which my daughter Julia was wrapped when she was little.
I thought, let me try 10k run and 5-10minutes rest intervals, just like that backyard ultra? for 24 hours, it would do?
I fell for that.
The first 130km, for 14 hours.
Rested and rolled in my Cozy blanket.
At 48.4k, just before reaching 50k..you see.
10 minutes at 56k, 25minutes at 80k, 10minutes at 90k, 15minutes at 100k, 10minutes around 110k, 10minutes around 110k, 10 minutes around 130k. More or less total of 90minutes.
What made me realize that it would not work? This restless man with mustard color jacket named David Bone whispers me as he circles the track backwards.
He walked all night long for your information.
He says, Miki, you are about 132k and 1 lap behind Zoe.
I was surprised because I thought of having passed her many laps.
Oh, she is not resting at all then.
Kelly replies, oh non, she did not.
Actually nobody was.
Right. Nobody does it.
You are in the race!
Earlier, my husband came to cheer and said “hey ma chérie, you are the first /second of female…” then I expressed that I did not care about it, so he needs to keep that out from me…
Like you are melting perfect square cube sugar with hot water bro, already melt the corner of it.
But it was better melted?
Round and friendly sugar block?
I wanted to feel peace and unity, just focusing on my goal?
No rubbing and scrubbing over 500 loops.
Ok. Game over.
Now, take your own wheels and be responsible. A thundeerrrrrr!!
I did not sit the rest of another 10 hours until I place the maracas number 33.
The moon was so bright. Slightly windy time to time but it was a magical night. Fox galloping.
I did not fall on the dark side, no suffering but the moon was as yellow as it got during the night.
I was just so very hungry. I did not prepare rice balls. I brought so much of unnecessary things but the most essential. Why..?
I have the arborescence mind, hard to structure but extends wildly.
Since little, I lived in the very high expectations.
Often I was told that I have a high potential.
The potential that the people saw in me squeezed me tight.
At 13, I dreamt to be like a wind.
The wind that nobody notices, but just there indifferently.
Was it a society? ahem I am from Japan, grew up in uniform and discipline.
Prayers are in the air so closely, Buddhism and Shintoism.
I tend to think too much too far, and often very very original ways.
So when I need to express, I need to make it simple or risk taking long.
So I love running.
It is lifesaving.
You express freely.
It gifts me the determination, focus and especially the finish.
I love to cross over the imagination, finding the possible way to enjoy even painful journey.
Instead of switching off to avoid further damage and close my eyes to rest, I love to dream ahead.
The very last 10 minutes, the energy of the track stormed up to the sky.
As I run, I was clapping hard with gratitude towards all the volunteers, time keepers, organizers, Shankara, Hillary, Kelly, and my husband Olivier and my running sisters and brothers.
Together, friends and the family of Women Running the World, London City Runners and Camino Ultra. Micki, Amy, Jane, Stephanie, Marissa Regina, Annie, Annie, Clementine, Paula, Kelsey, Paul, Julian, Erin, Alice, Alice, Gaby.. others I cannot name.
We made it through.
Some stopped to race, but we were in this to learn something.
We heard the wisdoms in our very own ways.
Shout out to all the runners - Sébastien, Anna, Max, Ash, Anson, Elliott, Patricia, Zoe, Rachel, Kallum, Stephen, James, Oscar, Ashprihanal, and all other runners that I cannot spell, we circled the time.
I was surrounded by the jumping joy and brightness.
Smiling, sighing, hugging, skipping.
Everyone around me.
What flashed me, especially at the final 5 hours ahead, was this vision.
The vision of the end of tunnel, the tiny small light reaching towards me from far ahead.
Desire to be immersed into the small rayon of light.
Your entire being is called by it, sucked and pulled, and desire to be blessed with it.
I must get there.
The image is the ultimate gift from my very special friends Sinead Kane and John O’Regan.
They sent me a video message the night before the race.
They are the reason I run this race, and why it had to be at the Sri Chinmoy at Battersea.
This place is where we all met.
My entire journey to 24 hours endurance race has all started with this inspiring Sinead Kane.
She is Irish, extremely talented ultra distance runner, fearless adventurer and the first visually impaired solicitor.
I was very fortunate to run next to her as one of her guide runner at Sri Chinmoy Transcendence 24H track race 2 years ago.
For the first time, I witness this bizarre passion to run around 400 meter athletic track as many times as you could during 24hours.
She also took me to the wildest adventure, IAU 24H European championships as part of Irish team, where the world record of 24H was broken by Aleksandr Sorokin (Lithuania) 319.614km, and could admire my running hero Dan Lawson closely.
Running for me is a dedication.
It is a prayer.
It offers to sense the wholeness, and the keys to find the wisdoms within.
The connection of all.
The taste of miso soup…
Miki Néant Ozawa"
So much goes into these events and we have left so much out of this blog.
Big Love to Camino Legends Ash & Kallum. To all our friends who came to see us.
To Shankira & the Sri Chimoy Family who make this one of the most beautiful running events to be a small part of - Truly Grateful to You x
If you are considering taking part and would like some help/directions then please do message us email@example.com
We will 100% be hoping to gain acceptance into future Sri Chimoy events. We hope that you will come down next time and be a part of one with us x